Dir. Fred Vogel (2023)
Two serial killers bring along a friend on their next adventure.
Quick side note: I won't be including any pictures in this review due to the subject matter. Do with that what you will.
The August Underground films are a sight to behold. Not a single one of them is a good movie, in fact far from it. They are, however, a collection of films that do their best to gross you out while showing some of the best low-fi special effects you'll ever come across. The first film, showing a pair of young guys who travel around killing everyone they think they can get away with, is gory and disgusting, but it also feels like an interesting peek inside the minds of two real serial killers. As I stated in that review, if you were to find an unmarked VHS with August Underground on it, there's very little within the film to make you doubt its veracity as a snuff film. The second film in the series, Mordum, takes things a step further, giving its audience three serial killers, one of them a woman this time, and even more depravity and deranged "humor" than it did the first time around.
August Underground: Mordum is difficult to even qualify as a film. Much like the first in the series, Mordum has little to no plot beyond its bevy of victims, each tortured more excruciatingly thorough than the last. The killers in this film are the same as in the last, though they've added "Maggot's" sister to their cadre of sociopaths. The vast majority of the film is sexual torture, continually escalating the violence to try to be as shocking and inhumane as possible. It's depravity for the sake of depravity, torture for the sake of torture. It's yet more proof that Fred Vogel knows what he's doing in the effects side of things, but I don't know if it was necessary after the first film.
Mordum is bizarre, exceptionally disturbing, and a film that really makes you question the boundaries of taste. It's difficult to argue that it's necessary or even should exist at all. While I am generally of the opinion that art is in the eye of the beholder, Mordum definitely threatens that definition. It's tough to consider this artistic expression and not the ravings of a madman, hearkening back to Ian Malcom's words in Jurassic Park: they "were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should." That statement has never felt more relatively applied to film as it does with this film.
Regardless of my own personal definition of art, the August Underground films, I'm sure, apply to someone's. It's an underground gore film, a movie that has a legion of fans that I'm sure are relatively normal people otherwise. But it's impossible to imagine that this is something that is supposed to be enjoyed. Rather, it is a warning, a threat against the very boundaries of what cinema can be. The fact that these types of films actually exist, these types of people actually exist, is terrifying. It takes the concept of serial killers on film to its most extreme perimeter, stepping to the border of "too far" and never hesitating to draw its own borders.
For that, it's worth it. At the end of the day, the simple fact that Vogel and company can make a film like this perhaps makes them worthy progenitors of this type of "art." It's not a film that I can ever imagine watching for amusement or gratification, but art is art, I suppose. Beyond the annoying screaming, the shaky camera, and the extreme, unnecessarily sexual, violence lies something meaningful for someone. I am aware of my own limitations to know that that someone is not me.
Who this movie is for: Extreme horror fans, Horror lovers without limits, Barbers
Bottom line: August Underground: Mordum pushes all limits of taste and even art itself. It's exceptionally brutal, unnecessarily so, and it probably didn't need to be made. Because it has been, it has naturally found fans who can stomach its ultra-violent content and incessant shrieking. While it's certainly not a film I would say I enjoyed at all, I will say that it's a film that does a great job of what it sets out to do: disgust its audience and show off its effects chops. If this is your thing, I highly recommend checking out the new release from Unearthed Films, because they do the best job possible with movies like this. Be warned, however: it's for no one but the most extreme gorehounds.